How to Deal with Pests

Sketch of the red squirrel from Pinterest.

One of the 10 most invasive species in the entire world is The Gray Squirrel. They’ve been known to eat everything from nuts to garbage cans, and are real pests in my New York neighborhood. Bothersome plants and animals are why people turn to pesticides and herbicides to protect their houses. But can herbicides be good? When I think herbicide I think about white powder that burns your fingers when you touch it. That is not good. Herbicides aren’t selective on what they destroy. On the other hand, the plants you want to keep could always be re-planted after the invasive species are eradicated. So why bring up herbicides?

Just a few short hours from my hometown is Cayuga lake. You can view my personal tales about camping there under the page called “All I See is Green”. Cayuga lake has had problems with the invasive Hydrilla plant. Hydrilla even sounds like an evil water entity. It is an invasive species, as it should never be this far north. The vine creeps along the surface of freshwater bodies until what was once a lake looks like a rice patty. Just imagine all the little fish trying to swim but getting caught up in the web-like leaves…So sad. Activists in Tompkins County recently switched from using the herbicide endothall in the lake to fluridone. Endothall was faster acting but required the lake to be closed during the administration period, thus the slower acting herbicide was put to use.

I got thinking, are using herbicides and physical removal the only way to get rid of invasive species? There’s got to be an easier method of returning the environment to the way it was. Here are the other methods I found:

  • flooding
  • burning
  • mowing
  • chickens, sheep, goats, and others: to munch the plant to extinction
  • cultural control: make natural plants more competitive by fertilizing, planting seeds, etc.

In each case the application best suited to the species at large can vary. For instance, if the plant has already germinated, do not use the mowing technique as it will only spread the seeds. Otherwise you must consider the pros and cons to each method and continue with a certain method or combination until the invasive species is removed. More on the methods of controlling invasive plants can be found here.

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